Exercise to Strengthen Lower Back Muscles

Let me show you some of the ways I use exercise to strengthen lower back muscles for myself and my clients.

I have found Pilates exercises to be the best way to strengthen lower back muscles while simultaneously working the "core" or abdominal muscles.

One of the simplest ways to take the pressure off your lower back is to stand or sit upright and with good posture.

standing neutral spine

When standing or sitting make sure to align the spine correctly.

Your ears,

over your shoulders,

over your hips,

over your ankles.

Imagine a head to tail connection like a spring being pulled in opposite directions.

The tail pulls down gently hugging your buttocks together as the top of the head reaches up to the sky. Just feel that length in your spine!

Pilates exercises can and should be performed in various positions for best results. Lying, sitting, standing, and kneeling positions work all angles of the spine making your back and postural muscles stronger.

Check out some of my favorite lower back strength exercises below:

Pilates Swimming Exercise:

exercise to strengthen lower back

This is probably my favorite exercise to strengthen lower back muscles as it forces you to pull the abs up and in against gravity simultaneously working the erector spinae muscles of the lower back.


Lying on your stomach with arms and legs extended in opposite directions.

Draw your abs up and in hollowing out the pelvis.

Your head and chest should be slightly elevated with the nose pointing down keeping the neck long and in line with the rest of the spine.


Inhale as you extend lifting opposite arm and leg, exhale to lower, keep alternating for a 10 count.

Caution: Not recommended for those with spinal stenosis. O.K. for osteoporosis.

Pilates Single Leg Stretch:

low back stretching exercise


Lying on your back with head and shoulders lifted using the abdominals, one knee pulled to your chest and the other leg extended at a 45 degree angle.


Switch legs pulling one in and extending the other for 10-20 repetitions breathing in and out deeply and flattening the abdomen as you pull the knee deep into your chest.

This lower back exercise helps again in stretching the muscles that can tighten the lower back while strengthening the abdominal muscles.

Side Bend on Pilates Chair:

pilates chair side bend

1. Sitting tall feel the ribs floating up over the hips with the arms hanging at your side, inhale to prepare and as you exhale side bend reaching one hand to the floor bending at the waist. Keep both hips and buttocks anchored to the chair.

2. Take another breath and as you exhale feel the abdominals engage at the waist to bring you straight back up tall over your hips.

3. Repeat to each side 4-8 times.

This is a great exercise to strengthen lower back muscles and to work the oblique muscles, as well as stretch the muscles along the sides of the spine that get tight from sitting all day.

Kneeling Balance:

kneeling balance exercise

This is a great Pilates exercise to strengthen lower back muscles and you can progress to after learning the swimming exercise.


Begin by kneeling on your hands and knees, with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Your spine should be in neutral with a long head/tail extension.


Begin by inhaling as you extend one leg back just parallel with the floor. If you feel balanced only then add an opposite arm extending just parallel to the floor. Hold for a moment then lower with an exhale and repeat on the other side.

Repeat for 4-6 repetitions on each, less if your wrists get sore.

One Leg Balance:

one leg balance

To improve your balance and strengthen lower back muscles you need to first develop good posture and strength in your torso, this strength comes from the abdominal muscles and lower back.


Standing tall with your chest lifted and over the ribs, chin pulled back, draw your abdominals in without flattening the lower back.


Shift your weight over one leg staying tall and lifted and then slowly lift the opposite leg just off the floor.

Try to hold for 5-10 seconds. Hold onto a chair or wall until you feel stable enough to let go.

Repeat 5 times on each leg.

Leave exercise to strengthen lower back and check out more ways to keep your back healthy.

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